Friday, September 29, 2006

Was it all a dream?
Today it's a beautiful sunny Friday morning in England and the garden is looking so green.

We left Florianopolis just after lunch on Wednesday, but on Wednesday morning I walked up the beach and back.

It already seems hardly real and I'm now even more glad to have all my photos, website and blog to remind me of the fantastic time we had.

More than friends
It's hard to imagine what we would have done without these people during our time in Brazil. They met us at the airport when we arrived and saw us off when we left and in between helped us in so many ways - for example with finding somewhere to live, buying and selling a car, introductions at the University, sorting out visas with the state police, finding our way around Florianopolis city, finding a travel agent and more. On top of all this they included us in their family and social events and always made us feel warmly welcome. We will miss them!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Last post from Florianopolis
Today has been a beautiful day. It seems that summer is coming at last to Florianopolis. Unfortunately the day has been taken up with packing and selling the car, so no time to walk on the beach or on this mosaic walkway.

However, we have managed to squeeze in a last plate of camarao a milanesa (prawns fried in breadcumbs) and caipirinha this evening!

I think I will probably make one more post to this blog after we get back to England and then that will be it.

The whole six months here has been fabulous - far surpassing my expectations.

The Gym
We didn't discover the gym until half way through our time here - more's the pity!

In the past I have always thought that a gym is just not for me. I have tried them twice in England and have not liked the impersonal, cold feel to the gyms I have been to and the fact that everyone appears to be half my age and intent on becoming a body builder!

I have really enjoyed going to the gym here. This is the girl who has always been there helping me, giving me appropriate exercises and ensuring that a visit to the gym is always a good laugh.

I have also met quite a few other people of all ages and sizes in the gym who have been warmly friendly. I'm hoping to find a similar gym in England as after our time here I can definitely see the benefits.
Another Special Person
This is John's personal trainer. What a fantastic guy - only 24 and so concerned with ensuring that he provides the right service, with the right exercises.

This is a very special person who we really hope that we will meet again so that we can help him as he has helped us.

Special Person
Here is just one of the 'special' people we have enjoyed meeting whilst being here. He works at Lucila's restaurant where we have been having lunch 2 or 3 times a week.

He is always smiling like this, is always very helpful and likes to chat when he is not too busy. John has had fun trying to explain 'cricket' to him!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Man's Eye View of Brazil
Whilst we have been here, I have been fascinated by other people's websites about Brazil - so different to my own.

The website from which this photo is taken is very entertaining, although you would certainly have to have specific interests in life to write it!

It is worth a visit, because - from my perspective - it presents a very accurate picture of how many people (particularly young people) will experience Brazil.

Another interesting website is:

This site features interesting stories of foreigners who have settled in Brazil.

Black Brazil seeks a Better Future
When we are just about to leave we come across this BBC article on racism in Brazil, which has certainly set me thinking.

For many years Brazil prided itself on its cultural diversity and harmony, but there is no doubt that black people remain socially disadvantaged in Brazil. According to the information I have read on some websites, over 70% of the people living in favelas are black. However, I have also heard that some of the poorest people living in the south of Brazil are immigrants from Poland. I have no means of knowing whether this information is true or not.

This photo shows the housing of a fishing community living on Beira Mar Norte in Florianopolis city centre. I did not see anyone coming or going so I don't know whether the inhabitants are black or not. I am doubtful that I can assume that this would count as a favela and that the people living here would consider themselves disadvantaged, even if it looks extremely poor - just as I don't know whether I can assume that the people living in this housing are subject to racism, even if they are disadvantaged.

It would appear that racism in Brazil might be more subtle than in other parts of the world. Is this better or worse than the overt racism that is evident elsewhere?
Feeling Strange
Only a day and a half to go and I am now feeling that it will be easier to be on the plane than it is to be here saying goodbye to people we have met and really like and to a life-style that is hard to beat.

Leaving England to come here was not so hard, because we knew that 6 months is not a long time and that we would be returning.

Leaving here is harder, because we are not sure if we will ever return and we have very strong connections with Brazil.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Defunct Blogs
As well as defunct websites - what happens to defunct blogs? By this time next week, I won't be adding to this blog any more ...... but I can feel another one coming on!

This time next week........

.......I won't be sitting in a small apartment writing up my blog having spent lunchtime eating a meal in a restaurant on the beach.

You can see from this photo though, that we had to brave the elements a bit today. John is trying to keep out of the cool south wind (hence the screen) - on top of which he is trying to take full advantage of this delicious meal whilst at the same time cope with toothache!

'Mad dogs and Englishmen' comes to mind once again!

My website:

Creating this website has been a worthwhile experience while we have been here.

This is the first time I have attempted anything like this and it has been quite a steep learning curve, especially in the beginning.

It has been good to have a definite focus and to know that there was a time span for this project. The site now has a lot of pages. If we were staying longer, I would be able to add more to it. I have tried to make it a site based on personal experience of the places we have visited and things I am interested in. However, I now think I have done as much to it as I want to.

What happens to defunct websites? There must be a graveyard full of them! A Brazilian friend suggested that the city government tourist agency might be interested in it, as there are very few sites about Florianopolis that are in English - but it would probably need a lot more work to get it to a level where it could be used in this way.

Now - if someone said come back to Florianopolis for a couple of months and go round taking photos and gathering further information for this site, that would be a very attractive offer :-)
Looking Forward
Since this is our last weekend in Florianopolis and who can say when, or if ever, we will visit Brazil again, it is inevitable to be thinking about what life will be like back in England again. Six months isn't a very long time to be away, so I can't imagine that it will be that different.

However, life here has been different and I hope to take some ideas back with me - for example

- exercise can be enjoyable!
- fresh fish is delicious!
- exploring your surroundings always reveals some hidden treasures
- blogging is a great way to 'mark' your thoughts and learning
- taking photos is a wonderful hobby
- work/life balance is achievable!

I'm sure I'll be adding to this as I think about it :-)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Passeio dos Namorados
If the tide is too high and we can't walk on the beach, this is where we walk. The path runs directly behind the beach and is 2 kms long. That is a lot of mosaic paving!

I think I have posted a photo of this before, but I thought another one wouldn't harm!
Birthday Party
Last night we were invited to a child's 6th birthday party (6.00-9.00 pm). Beforehand, I did wonder whether I would cope with a 3 hour children's birthday party, but it turned out to be fun!

Children's birthday parties here are as much an event for adults as they are for the children. This one was held in a venue which runs these parties. It was a large hall (like a sport's hall) full of trampolenes, rope walkways etc. on which the children were let loose but carefully supervised. Plenty of space for them to career around.

Alongside this hall were some rooms which could be booked for the party. This was used by the adults and the children came in and out as they wished. We were served with wine, maracuja cocktails (passion fruit), salgadinhos (small savoury eats) and docinhos (small sweet eats) - all delicious and all very bad for the figure!

The children came in for an excellent magic show and to see the cake being cut and sing 'Parabens para voce'.

The three hours flew by!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Eating In!
I shall not only miss eating out in restaurants, but will also miss having lunch on our veranda whenever the sun shines or simply when it is warm enough - which is very often.

This we did today. So easy to organise (about 3 metres from the kitchen!) and always a real treat, as the food here is so fresh.

Lunch is taken seriously here. It is not just a sandwich eaten whilst working at your computer. It is a social, family event, with a freshly prepared sit down meal and for some people (particularly in the hot weather) is followed by a siesta. Very civilized and much more healthy than a sandwich at a computer!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Floripa's Mangrove Swamp
Driving in the city centre it is easy to see that Florianopolis' development has depended on reclaiming land from the sea. One area that must have been affected are the mangrove swamps - Manguezal do Itacorubi, which are considered one of the largest urban mangrove swamps in the world.

The city has tried to preserve these swamps and develop an interest in them by building boardwalks over them and providing information about the flora and fauna - principally the wide variety of crabs that inhabit the swamps.

It is an interesting area to visit, but it is not a place to visit on your own and definitely not at night as we were told that it is frequented by addicts and ladroes (thieves). But it's fine during the day, and the light on the water and between the trees was fascinating.
Making Hay While the Sun Shines
Today has been hot and sunny so we took the opportunity to go out to lunch - again!

This is a restaurant on the water's edge and overlooking the bay to Florianopolis city. It is called Bate Ponto and is in Santo Antonio de Lisboa, just down the coast from us.

We have passed this restaurant a few times but this is the first time we have been in. The food was excellent and the waiter very entertaining as he wanted to practise his English, so that he can eventually get a job on a cruise ship!